Billy Tauzin, president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), plans to step down from the post this summer.

Billy Tauzin, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, PhRMA, David Brennan, health care reform, resign

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Tauzin to resign as PhRMA CEO

February 12th, 2010
Billy Tauzin

WASHINGTON – Billy Tauzin, president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), plans to step down from the post this summer.

PhRMA said Friday that Tauzin, who has headed the pharmaceutical industry trade group since January 2005, will leave the position at the end of June and serve as a consultant thereafter.

The search for his successor will begin immediately and be led by the PhRMA board's Nominations and Compensation Committee, the association said. 

"In January 2005, after a full year successfully battling a killer cancer, I was given a second chance at life, and appropriately chose to commit my next five years to the life-saving work of the people whose miracle medicines had just saved my own," Tauzin, 66, said in a statement. "For the past five years, I have given my all to that effort at PhRMA, and believe we have made a significant difference together."

"I have been honored to be a part of that work," he added. "As the first-ever cancer patient to lead PhRMA as its CEO, I now believe it is time I move on and hand the mantle of leadership of this great organization to others as passionate as myself and to explore the many other interests I would like to pursue in this special second-chance life that I have been given. My health is excellent and I look forward to exciting new challenges ahead.

"My commitment in January 2005 was for five and a half years of service, and I will have fulfilled that commitment this summer. By then, I hope and expect that a great successor will have been chosen, and I intend to work with PhRMA’s new CEO to ensure a smooth and successful transition."

In a statement, PhRMA chairman David Brennan thanked Tauzin for his leadership and many accomplishments at the association during his tenure, notably his efforts in the push for health care reform.

"Under his leadership, PhRMA has been a steadfast advocate of policies that support research and development and expand access to new medicines," said Brennan, who is CEO of drug maker AstraZeneca. "Billy launched the Partnership for Prescription Assistance program to provide financial support to patients with the greatest need, and strengthened our voluntary codes on direct-to-consumer advertising, on clinical trials and on interactions with health care professionals.

"In addition, Billy brought a new openness to PhRMA's advocacy, ensuring that we partner with anyone willing to join us in our fight against disease," Brennan continued. "We wish him the best as he turns the page on another successful chapter in his career. With Billy's strong leadership and commitment to PhRMA's mission, the board is confident that we can ensure a smooth transition to new leadership."

Before joining PhRMA, Tauzin served 13 terms as the representative for the 3rd Congressional District of Louisiana. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1980 as a Democrat, but because he often ended up voting with Republicans on a number of issues, he switched parties in 1995.

Until February 2004, he served as the chairman of the  House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over all interstate and foreign commerce, including health care, energy, telecommunications, biomedical research, consumer protection, the environment and travel and tourism. One of his key accomplishments in the health care arena as committee chairman was helping President George W. Bush pass the Medicare prescription drug bill. Suffering from health problems, Tauzin announced in February 2004 that he wouldn't run for another term.

Prior to his tenure in Congress, Tauzin served in the Louisiana State Legislature, where he served in a variety of distinguished posts such as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and Chief Administration Floor Leader. He was chosen twice as one of Louisiana's Ten Best Legislators, according to PhRMA.